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Remote North Yorkshire village first in North of England to get pioneering new superfast broadband technology

Press Release   •   Jan 06, 2015 00:00 GMT

Villagers connected to high-speed broadband using radio waves 

A remote village on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors is set to become the first place in the North of England to benefit from a pioneering new way to get superfast broadband to challenging areas.

All 136 homes and businesses in the small village of Westow will soon have access to broadband speeds of up to 80Mbps – using a three kilometre microwave radio link instead of digging fibre optic cable into the ground.

A special transmitter dish will beam a broadband link - using radio waves - from the nearby Whitwell Hill exchange to a receiver attached to the street cabinet serving the village.

The innovative scheme was made possible by funding from the Superfast North Yorkshire programme, a partnership led by BT and North Yorkshire County Council.

The wireless solution is part of BT’s toolkit of innovative technologies designed to expand the reach of fibre broadband. It is also testament to BT’s on-going commitment to innovation. In 2012/13 alone, the company invested £544 million in research and development.

Helen Yarrow, BT project manager, said: “Using microwave radio was the ideal solution for Westow as we knew that it wouldn’t be viable to lay a fibre optic cable to such a small and remote community.

“When we surveyed the village we realised that trying to lay fibre cables in the ground would not have been cost effective – given the terrain and lack of existing infrastructure between the exchange and the fibre broadband cabinet. Laying cable would also have meant having to close off a single track road for a prolonged period, which would have caused considerable disruption for villagers, who would have had to make a lengthy diversion.”

The microwave link uses ‘point-to-point’ technology which meant engineers had to install a small football sized transmitter dish at the top of a specially built 12 metre high wooden pole in the grounds of the telephone exchange building so that it could ‘see’ the receiving antenna erected on another pole situated 3 kilometres away in Westow.. The broadband signal from the exchange is beamed across using a radio wave signal to link up the exchange with the receiving antenna which is then linked to a new green roadside fibre cabinet serving the village.

Helen added: “The microwave link uses a dedicated radio spectrum so there is no possibility of the signal being lost or interfered with. For people using broadband in the village, it will be exactly the same as if they were connected up using fibre optic cables in the ground. The increase in speed and subsequent benefits are exactly the same. Customers’ premises are connected up to the fibre cabinet in the usual way so there is no need for any special equipment in the home. ”

Councillor Carl Les, chairman of superfast North Yorkshire, said: “North Yorkshire is proud of its pioneering record in deploying next generation broadband. We were the first county to roll out fibre under the government’s BDUK programme so it is fitting that we are the first programme in the north of England to be using this latest technology to push the deployment even further.

“This is just one example of the many innovative approaches to bringing fibre based broadband to remote communities – and that innovation will continue.”

Tom Keeney, BT’s regional director for Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “This is a great example of how the Superfast North Yorkshire programme is bringing superfast broadband to communities who otherwise would not be getting it. By proving the value of this new technology, we hope that it will be used in other appropriate locations in the future.”

BT first piloted “wireless to the cabinet” technology in 2013 in Northern Ireland, with a link established between the mainland and Rathlin Island. In October this year, the village of Northlew, in Devon, launched a four kilometre microwave radio link to connect up 120 premises in the tiny historic village.

Superfast North Yorkshire is making fibre broadband available to more than 140,000 homes and businesses across the county. These are in addition to more than 200,000 properties able to access fibre broadband as a result of BT’s £2.5 billion commercial roll-out programme

BT was chosen as the private sector partner in the project following an extensive selection process by the county council. The company is contributing £10 million towards fibre deployment in “non-commercial” areas whilst the county council is using its £17.8 million share of BDUK funds and a further £8.6 million coming from the European Regional Development Fund . An additional £8m is being invested to push the deployment of fibre even further with the aim to make the technology available to another 11,100 homes and businesses across England’s largest rural county by 2017.

To help businesses in North Yorkshire take advantage of the faster broadband speeds a support service has been put in place to provide free services such as training workshops, skills master classes and business development events. This will demonstrate how faster broadband connections can help to develop business and increase profits by maximising efficiency and productivity.
For more information call 0845 0020021 or email: enquiries@sfny.co.uk.

For further information on the Superfast North Yorkshire programme visit www.superfastnorthyorkshire.com

The Superfast North Yorkshire project is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund Programme 2007 to 2013. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the managing authority for the European Regional Development Fund Programme, which is one of the funds established by the European Commission to help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support local businesses and create jobs. For more information visit www.communities.gov.uk/erdf

Notes to Editors:
Superfast Britain is a Government investment of £1.08bn in broadband and communication infrastructure across the UK. Run by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, this investment helps businesses to grow, creates jobs and will make Britain more competitive in the global race. The portfolio comprises three linked programmes:
• £780m to extend superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by 2017
• £150m to provide high speed broadband to businesses in 22 cities
• £150m to improve quality and coverage of mobile phone and basic data network services
Administered on behalf of Government by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), Superfast Britain is transforming Britain by promoting growth, enabling skills and learning, and improving quality of life.
For further information: https://www.gov.uk/broadband-delivery-uk